NEWTOWN SQUARE PA – The e-mail message that arrived Saturday morning (May 30, 2009) carried a seductive subject line, one sure to impress real estate agents hungry for sales. “The process to growing your business online,” it cooed, “starts with selective e-mail marketing.”
The Taylors SC-based company that sent it followed up in the remainder of its message with a promise of hope. “We have nearly every e-mail list you’d need,” it claimed; “business lists, consumer lists, even a free custom list-builder.” All recipients needed to do, it noted, was “just click to visit” their new site and get – meaning, buy for a price – access to nearly 6,000 different business and consumer-related e-mail lists.
Those who did would be buying into trouble.
The company sells lists of e-mail addresses that, if purchasers are lucky, might actually be delivered to potential customers or clients in geographic areas where they do business. Buyers won’t know if the lists are usable until they’ve laid out their cash and downloaded the files. Sadly, the company offers no money-back guarantee of satisfaction.
Even if its e-mail address lists are as good as advertised, they’re still unusable. Why? Because the sender – that would be you, Mr. or Ms. Agent – has not established a business or any other type of relationship with the intended recipient. You therefore become a spammer.
No one wants to receive junk e-mails. Unfortunately, that’s the bulk of all e-mail sent today, which is why spam so turns off recipients. No matter how anxious you are for listings, or how attractive is the listing you’re trying to move, neither is business worth spamming over. Spam only poisons the well of future relationships.
In addition, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and its state counterparts have adopted strict ethical and business guidelines on avoiding spam. The federal government also doesn’t think much of the practice, which is why it instituted anti-spam laws years ago.
The best way to grow your business online is not though selective marketing, but through permission marketing. That’s when you have permission from the recipients to send them e-mails containing subject matter of specific interest to them. Usually, permission is offered when recipients voluntarily give you their e-mail addresses. Once you send them what they’re interested in, they’ll often keep their addresses on the list to receive even more.
It’s the start of a relationship that can profit both of you.
For more on this subject, see:
- Real Estate Prospecting With Permission Marketing, an article in Realtor Magazine
- Seth Godin’s Jan. 31, 2008, blog entry on “Permission Marketing”
This article was originally published at the Polley Associates blog
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